KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Even though Cheridene Green’s time in a Lady Vol uniform has come to an end, it is just the beginning of her post-collegiate career.
One of two seniors on the 2018-19 Tennessee women’s basketball team, Green graduated in summer 2018 with a degree in communication studies. Her classmate Meme Jackson, who is in training camp with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, and junior Kamera Harris, will be awarded diplomas in communication studies and recreations/sport management, respectively, this weekend as graduation ceremonies are held on the UT campus.
A native of London, England, and the program’s first-ever international signee, Green has decided to continue her basketball journey on the Great Britain Women’s National Basketball Team. The squad competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and has aspirations of also competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“It seems like we (the team) have been achieving our goals,” Green said. “The opportunity to go to Tokyo is very, very tangible.”
The team camp, which includes tournaments with the EuroBasket league, begins the first part of June and goes until the end of July. Green already has a solidified spot on the roster. The team will compete against other countries, including Spain, Slovenia and Canada.
After overcoming a knee injury and playing two seasons at Tennessee, the 6-foot-3 forward had the opportunity to sign a training camp contract with the WNBA. She knew, however, that the timing was right to play for her home nation instead. The team is based in Manchester, which is about three hours from London. Because of the location, her family members can now watch her compete in person, something they weren’t able to do during her time in the United States.
“I have been playing for England since 2009,” Green said. “When I was younger, I said that I wanted be on this team one day. I knew it was going to happen, but I just had to wait my turn. My pursuit of playing in the WNBA can wait.”
As for her future, Green has a plan already set in her mind with the end goal of playing for a team in the WNBA. She plans on competing on an overseas team later this year to build her résumé and continue to play for her national team in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.
“After playing professionally for a year, I would consider pursuing a career in the WNBA,” Green said. “That has always been a goal of mine. There is no rush. These are stepping stones. I want to be playing at different levels. But I am not the player I want to be right now. In each game that I play for my national team, I just want to be more consistent. That is what I am building toward.”
In regard to improving her game, Green mainly wants to become more of an offensive threat on the court and play more consistently. She stepped up her rebounding game while at Tennessee, because that is what the team needed. But for her future playing career, it is almost like a new beginning for her.
“During my time at Tennessee, nobody saw me shoot a jump shot, which is crazy because I can actually shoot,” Green said. “So I need to show people the things I can do. But with turning professional, I think my game is my canvas right now. I can literally be whatever player I want to be, and I know what kind of player I have always wanted to be.”
Even though Green is looking ahead to the future and has big goals to accomplish, she still looks back fondly in regard to her time on Rocky Top.
In her last season in a Lady Vol jersey, Green averaged 9.0 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per contest. During the SEC portion of the season, she shined even more, producing averages of 10.3 ppg. and 8.8 rpg. She also was the only UT player to start every single game during the season and finished second on the team with six double-doubles.
“I think being a college student-athlete is a privilege, regardless of your background or where you come from,” Green said. “I will miss the hospitality of this place. Especially being so far from home, everything is literally right there. In the real world, you have to create that hospitality place for yourself. But I am so excited for that, because I am very independent.”
Her mom was able to travel to Knoxville for Green’s senior day game, the only game she saw Green play in the U.S. Green made the trip worth it for her mom, posting a career-high 20 points and snagging eight rebounds against Vanderbilt in her last home game at Tennessee.
“My mom has always been proud,” Green said. “She is very hard on me, which I think is good. But I know she is definitely proud. She said it for the first time when she came here and watched my game. That meant a lot coming from her.”
Even though Green is moving on to a professional career, she is excited for the future of the Tennessee program with the new coaching staff. So much so, that she wishes she had one more year of eligibility left to play for new head coach Kellie Harper.
“I really love Kellie,” Green said. “She is very cool and genuine. I already feel like it is a family. It just feels genuine to me, and she seems to care about you as a person.”
As for where she goes next after her time on the Great Britain Women’s National Basketball Team, Green will take the experiences of being a part of the Big Orange family and reflect positively on her time here.
“I do love the support of Knoxville,” Green said. “Everybody knows who you are, and they make sure that you are okay. They take care of you. I would definitely call it home. I have built friendships with people here – even with people outside of UT.”
The next destination for Green is playing for her national team, but she also knows that is just the beginning of what’s to come. She is taking the journey one step at a time and hopes for the best when thinking about her future.
“Wherever I go, I just want to know that I am going to be taken care of and safe,” Green said. “I will be happy because I have completed my degree and will be focused on playing basketball. That is all I care about right now. Anything can happen.”